Priti Patel gets basic COVID guidance wrong for second time in three days

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 12: United Kingdom Home Secretary Priti Patel talks at a coronavirus press conference at Downing Street on January 12, 2021 in London, England. The Home Secretary pressed the message that the nation must abide by the government's rules to help get Covid-19 cases down again, following days of the numbers increasing. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Priti Patel has got basic coronavirus rules wrong again. (Getty Images)
  • Boris Johnson responds as Priti Patel gets COVID rules wrong again

  • Home secretary incorrectly said people can only exercise alone, when rules permit someone to exercise with one other person from a different household

  • On Tuesday, Patel wrongly said ‘outdoor recreation’ was allowed

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Boris Johnson has responded after Priti Patel got basic coronavirus rules wrong for the second time in three days.

On Thursday, home secretary Patel incorrectly said people can only exercise alone under the rules of the third lockdown.

In fact, the rules allow one person to exercise outdoors with one person from another household.

Patel, speaking to ITV’s This Morning, had said: “The clarity is exercising on your own and not socialising.”

She added: “The point to make about any exercise – yes, it should be local, people exercise differently. But exercise on your own and don’t use it for a social meeting.”

Responding to the comments on Thursday afternoon, Johnson’s official spokesman said the government’s guidance on exercise has been “clear”.

Britain's Home Secretary Priti Patel (L) looks on as Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson chairs a cabinet meeting at the National Glass Centre at the University of Sunderland, in Sunderland, northeast England on January 31, 2020, the day that the UK formally leaves the European Union. - Britain on January 31 ends almost half a century of integration with its closest neighbours and leaves the European Union, starting a new -- but still uncertain -- chapter in its long history. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson's official spokesman said of the government's COVID rules after Priti Patel's latest mix-up: 'We've been clear.' (AFP via Getty Images)

“We’ve been clear that if people exercise they can do so with one other person from another household but we’re asking them to socially distance while they’re doing that.”

The home secretary’s mix-up over exercise came after Tuesday’s Downing Street press conference in which Patel wrongly said “outdoor recreation” was allowed.

The rules, in fact, state: “You cannot leave home for recreational or leisure purposes (such as for a picnic or a social meeting).”

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Later that evening, the Home Office clarified Patel was talking about exercise when she referred to “recreation”.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds posted on Twitter on Thursday: “The home secretary really needs to get a grip and be on top of the brief

“How on earth are police supposed to enforce these rules effectively when the home secretary gets them wrong?

Watch: High street pharmacies begin COVID-19 vaccines

Meanwhile, Johnson’s spokesman suggested further restrictions on people’s freedoms are still under consideration, but added there have been “early signs of progress” in reducing COVID-19 infections – meaning tougher rules may not be imposed.

As of Wednesday (13 January), the seven-day average of COVID infections in the UK was 53,539, down from 57,702 on 6 January, which was two days after Johnson announced England’s national lockdown.

Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown